Developers to ask council to scrap affordable rent agreements

Crest Nicholson South building in Davigdor Road, Hove
Crest Nicholson South building in Davigdor Road, Hove

Two developers want to scrap agreements to include ‘affordable’ homes for rent in their latest schemes because housing associations say the numbers are too small.

Social landlords approved by Brighton and Hove City Council have rejected taking on affordable rented flats in developments by Crest Nicholson in Hove and Preston Road Apartments in Brighton.

The original planning permission for Crest Nicholson’s ‘Artisan’ block of 47 one, two and three-bedroom flats in Davigdor Road, Hove, was granted in December 2015.

It included six affordable rented homes and two with shared ownership.

In November 2016 the company asked to change the requirement as agreements with social landlords to take on the affordable flats could not be reached.

Instead, Crest Nicholson was required to pay £1.2 million to fund affordable homes elsewhere.

Now the company wants to change the condition again to a contribution of £670,000 towards affordable homes elsewhere and 15 affordable flats on-site for shared ownership.

As one of the new flats is now occupied, planning conditions mean that company should be paying the council the money previously agreed.

In Preston Road, Brighton, the old City College building on the corner of Dyke Road Drive is due to be converted into 25 flats.

The planning conditions include five flats for affordable rent and five for shared ownership.

Again due to lack of interest from the council’s preferred social landlords, the company has asked to make all its ‘affordable’ allocation for shared ownership.

The reasons social landlords gave for not wishing to take up the units include:

- Too few affordable units within the scheme

- Affordable units not within a separate block, therefore difficult to manage the mix

- The freehold would not be owned by the social landlord, so they would not be in control the maintenance of the building

- Lack of parking and difficult access for a wheelchair-accessible unit

- A layout that would not be popular and, with the refurbished properties, the difficult and cost of maintenance

Letters from two social housing landlords are included with the agenda for the council’s planning committee meeting today (August 15) when both applications are up for discussion.

Jeremy Barkway, strategic partnership manager of Southern Housing Group, said: “On balance we have decided not to bid for this for a combination of reasons involving location, scale, life cycle costs and intergration of tenures.”

Rhys Daniel, head of land and planning (south) at Hyde Housing, said: “The total number of affordable units is too small for Hyde’s current target requirements and the mix of units in a single block and the nature of the scheme (refurbishment) also make this an unattractive proposition from a management, maintenance and affordability perspective.

“To be honest I think you will struggle to find a taker for these units from RPs (registered providers) operating in the city.”

The planning committee meets at 2pm at Hove Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.

For more of her stories, click here.